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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

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"Islam allows polygamy if the husband could treat his wives impartially and equally. The Holy Quran forbids polygamy if impartiality on the part of the husband is impossible of attainment. Saith AJlah, may He be exalted:
" 'And ye will not have it all in your power to treat your wives alike, even though you fain, would do so.'
"At any rate, Islam did not favour polygamy; never unconditionally allowed it. It only intended to prevent the lustful, who could not content themselves with one wife, from falling into the sin of adultery. These were allowed polygamy only if they could fulfil the condition of impartiality,
"The present practice among the greatest majority of Muslims is to have a single wife, except for a tew who by force of physical or material circumstances have to marry more than one, in order either to guard themselves against adultery or to support poor women who have no one to provide for them."
Before I left I was shown the priceless library, kept in rooms with exquisitely carved cedarwood ceilings. Ancient Qurans written on parchment, books with illuminated pages and gilded initials, manuscripts of great antiquity passed oy the thousand before my gaze. Fifteen thousand of these manuscripts were kept here alone.
And with that my audience was closed. I had listened intently, for Sheikh el Maraghi's high prestige gave unique authority to every statement he made.
I had begun to understand more clearly why Muhammed's faith spread; why Islam quickly came to receive the reverence of wild desert Bedouins, no less than that of cultured city Persians, and of the host of tribes and peoples who dwelt in the Near and Middle East.
Muhammed, like Moses, but unlike Buddha, aimed chiefly at establishing a visible, tangible heaven on earth, with organizing a society of people who would go on with normal daily living but apply to it such rules as he, a messenger of God, had brought them. Buddha, and even Jesus, were preoccupied with giving voice to ascetic themes, to intuitions which concerned themselves with the secret recesses of the human spirit; Muhammed, like Jesus, passionately lived in God, but, whereas Jesus gave his passion to the finding of the inner kingdom, Muhammed gave his to founding an outer kingdom. We are not competent to set ourselves up in judgment, but simply to